SOUTH LOOP — Skateboarders are so excited to get their wheels on the skate park under construction in Grant Park, they're breaking in at night for a sneak peek.
"The skateboarders want to use it so badly that they've actually been breaking into the area and using it," said Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy, which lobbied aggressively for funding to get the skate park built.
"On several occasions, they've gotten in there to use it at night," he said of the fenced-off construction site at the southern tip of Grant Park, near Roosevelt Road and Michigan Avenue.
"I've gotten several reports of that happening [from nearby residents] because people in the high-rises [overlooking Grant Park] can see it."
Lizzie Schiffman Tufano says the concrete still needs some time to set:
O'Neill said his parks group appreciates their enthusiasm, but hopes they'll consider waiting until the grand opening in early December — or at least until the completion of construction in November — to tear up the ramps, lest they interfere with the concrete curing process.
"The concrete has to set for like 28 days," O'Neill said. "They don't realize they can do damage."
The concrete-pouring process began in June, and concrete work on the skate park area concluded Friday, O'Neill said.
Construction is set to be completed by the end of November, and the park will have "a big opening with a lot of skateboarders and everything in the beginning of December," O'Neill said.
Crews are working this week on planting trees and landscaping the grassy areas around the wheel-friendly features.
As for the break-ins, O'Neill said "It's bad, but it also shows you how badly they want to use it, so that's an interesting endorsement."
O'Neill said the goal of the site was to create a can't-miss destination for local skateboarders and tourists.
"It looks like that is being accomplished even before it opens," he joked.
The 3-acre, $2.65 million skate park was designed by landscape architecture firm Altamanu. In late June, $2.5 million in TIF funding was approved for the project, with the Chicago Park District picking up the rest of the tab. The Park District bought the 1.9 acres needed for the park from the city for $1.
Construction on the park overlaps with construction of a tree-lined bike path along Roosevelt Road, also designed by Altamanu.
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